A burning-faced British woman finally has answers after years of being discharged by doctors.
Charlie-Shannon Bedford, 20, had suffered from an eating disorder since the age of 12 but never imagined it would leave her with painful burns and bumps all over her face.
The mental health student was living in pain so extreme she was unable to lift her head and felt like someone had ‘thrown hot water’ on her face.
“It wasn’t until the lumps started to appear that someone checked my blood and found it wasn’t circulating properly in my body,” Bedford told NeedToKnow.co.uk. “My skin turned bright red – it felt like someone was constantly burning my skin.”
Doctors believe the malnutrition resulting from Beford’s eating disorder affected his circulatory system, causing blood to pool in unusual places and causing ‘bright red’ skin and debilitating pain.
At first, Bedford attributed this to hormonal acne, but her condition gradually worsened.
“The bumps were on either side of my chin and also my cheeks, there was hardly any pus but the pain was unbearable at times,” she recalls. “My face was constantly swollen, I could barely speak and my skin felt like it was on fire.”
Her condition began to deteriorate in July 2020, and for the next two years she was in “hell”, with Bedford constantly trying to find new ways to ease the pain, including medication and home remedies.
All the while, Bedford was dealing with online bullies. “I was told I looked like a burn survivor, I was told to kill myself, I was told I had cancer,” she recalled viewers on TikTok, where she shared her fitness trail. “I was told my eating disorder should have killed me.”
The link between Bedford’s eating disorder and skin inflammation was finally established in mid-2021 when a particularly severe flare-up prompted doctors to give him a blood test.
“(Doctors) realized that my body was producing too many white blood cells, which was preventing blood from flowing properly through my body – it’s also called leukocytosis,” she explained.
According to experts, leukocytosis – having too many white blood cells – can be a sign of an underlying infection or inflammation in your body, or a symptom of something more serious, such as blood cancer.
Bedford said her symptoms started to make sense after she was diagnosed.
“I was getting sick 24/7, it hurt walking and sometimes even getting up hurt,” she explained.
As of 2023, Bedford’s skin has finally begun to clear up despite occasional days of dryness and inflammation. More importantly, she has “fallen in love again” with her appearance.
“Now I realize that the number on a scale does not determine my beauty or my personality,” she said. “I have since completed my recovery from the eating disorder, which has allowed me to eat again without feeling guilty.”
Bedford urged anyone in pain to reach out to those around them and seek professional help.
“As cliché as it sounds, it’s getting better,” she added.
The determined woman thanks her family and friends for helping her through her darkest days.
“I’m just so grateful to have them in my life,” she said.